Wild History Bio

On September 6, 1984 in a rented Scotch Plains, New Jersey rehearsal room on Route 22, 4 young men came together one evening to audition each other. There was a palpable electrical charge in the room as they introduced themselves.

Sean O'Gara (guitarist) and Ed Horton (bass) had left their band of the last several years, "The Score", and had advertised for a drummer and a singer to form an original band. Announcing their influences as U2, The Clash, The Jam and The Gang of Four, they wanted to form a band of political import, a band whose music one could be deeply moved by; they hoped people would either dance to or cry from the music's truth.

Joe Reina (drummer) was basically dissatisfied in the copy band he was playing in,"Masquerade", and felt a move into something more adventurous would suit him. The one thing he did like about the band was the singer they had recently acquired, Joe Florio (vocals).

At first, Joe Reina met Sean and Ed alone. It was a satisfactory evening and all felt some sort of common chord had been struck, though they also knew that without a singer and front man they were still a long way from where they wanted to be. On that night the drummer told them about Joe Florio and that he would ask him if he would be interested in auditioning. As Joe F. was new in Masquerade, he was surprised when Joe R. asked him to try out for an original band. But it had always been Joe F.'s goal to write and record original music, so he said he'd like to give it a shot.

From the first notes played on that fateful evening of September 6th, all felt an overwhelming sense of promise. Sean's funky, driving Viper guitar and Orange amp combination pressed urgently between the spaces in Ed's tuba-like, melodic Rickenbacker bass lines, while Joe's straight ahead drumming provided the necessary steady backbeat. Joe F.'s vital and passionate vocals urged the other three to challenge each other, thus completing the chemistry between them. On that first night an extensive nucleus of a song that would later come to define their sound, "Forget You", was born.

Nevertheless, they all wanted to be sure this was no wet dream, so they arranged to meet a second time in two weeks. On that afternoon a certain confident excitement was in the air as Sean and Ed's self-penned "Right Through My Heart" was taught and run-through several times (This would be the lead track on the band's only album "Guns or Butter"), as well as the two's intense and impassioned "J'ai Malais". An unusual, quirky harmony was created between Joe. F and Ed in the former tune, and Sean and Joe F. also sounded good together on the latter song. By the end of that session each one knew in their heart and soul that this was the one; they were fully in for the ride and Wild History (the band's name came a year or so later) began its journey.

Over the next 6 months Wild History refined their repertoire. Some songs were brought in as individual compositions, such as the aforementioned tunes, as well as Ed's "Struggling to Be Heard" and "Cousin Danny's in the I.R.A.", and Joe F.'s "Going Now" and "John Smith". But it was the songs they wrote almost effortlessly in jam sessions that left the greatest impression on the members - a way of writing that would come to be standard for Wild History for the majority of its existence, would indeed become what made the "Wild History sound". "Forget You", "French Bayonet", "When the Bombs Start Falling", "Too Hot to Trotsky", and the truly signature Wild History song that was never left out of a gig, "Dear Mom", were all written this way. Ed and Sean felt they had undoubtedly achieved their goal of making moving, important music, and Joe and Joe F. were completely enthused by what was happening, and impressed by and in considerable awe of the other two.

By the winter of 1985 the band was playing in small New Jersey clubs, its tightness and throbbing energy didn't fail to impress whoever was in attendance, but they had not yet been able to attract the interest they really desired: the recording industry.

Wild History decided that the gigs were not as paramount as obtaining a recording contract, and therefore turned their attention to recording a demo. At first they rented a 4-track cassette and did it themselves, but this proved to be unsatisfactory sonically. They then booked time in a 4-track studio in Clifford Park N.J., but the sound they knew they had "live" did not come across on these recordings either. Finally, in the summer of 1985 they came up with a recording they could be proud of, and began sending the tape out. However, nothing came of these efforts over two months.

During early 1985 Sean's life changed in many ways, including the painful break-up of a long relationship and the offer of full-time work as an animal rights activist. Unfortunately, taking this position required a move to Maryland. As reluctant as he was to tell the band the news, he informed the group members in the summer of 1985 he was moving to Maryland and would have to leave the band. He was the assumed leader of the group, and this came as a severe blow. Wild History suddenly had a heavy heart.

In its search for a replacement the band came close to the end of its wits. Though many interesting musicians auditioned for the position, none of them could spark the other members' musical intuition like Sean had. The search went on for 5 months. The band came to accept disappointment, though they still had hope. Then one night in December, 1985 their prayers were answered. From the first notes that emanated from Charles Dzugan's Strat, the band knew they had their man. With kind but assertive enthusiasm, they told him he was on board and needed to learn Wild History's repertoire as soon as he could. The group's second line-up had finally emerged.

At that time Joe F. was a bartender in Hoboken, a town that was a hub of musical activity in its own right. The bar called Maxwell's was the venue to play at, and important bands were featured there every week. There were all kinds of characters frequenting Joe F.'s place of work, and one afternoon one of them took notice of the band's demo tape, which Joe. F. played at the bar whenever he could. Tom Wilkins was his name, and he asked if Joe F. could give him a copy of the tape, for he new someone in New York City who he thought it might interest. What happened next was one day Joe F., Joe, Charles and Ed found themselves on the 27th floor of 670 Lexington Avenue in the offices of Alfred Goldfield, an entertainment investor and lawyer with good ties to the recording industry, particularly Columbia Records and Clive Davis. He told the boys that Clive thought highly of the songs, but needed to see the band perform. Could they do a showcase? Unfortunately, they had no immediate answer, but they promised to get right on the case.

In April of 1986 before a packed house and A&R representatives at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, Wild History steamed through a 45-minute set that left a stomping audience in its wake. Though there were no A&R representatives visiting the venue's pathetic excuse of a Green Room at show's end, a few days later Alfred assured the band that those in attendance had been impressed, but wanted to see another gig. He also promised he would have other record companies there, too.

And so it went for the next two years.

Never losing momentum, the new ensemble fell naturally into the old way of creating new songs: as a band. In this period Wild History came up with the prophetic "2005", and "Israel", and also found investors in the person of Kevin Lyons, who lent the band $10,000 to record the album that became "Guns or Butter?". It was an exciting time that evolved into a unanticipated series of events. It took 9 months to record the album, and within that time Joe F. got married, Ed decided to leave the band for professional and family reasons, and Sean moved back to the Metropolitan area and wanted to get back in the band.

In the end, the album did not completely meet the group's sonic expectations, though it did reach the Top 5 on several college radio play lists. The good news was the record companies were still interested, so Wild History began rehearsing intensely again in its final form, with Sean returning as bassist.

This final stage of the band's somewhat wild history had its interesting points, one of which was that the writing became more individual and less collective. Though there was still considerable creative activity as a band, the creation of new material took on a different form than previously. The group purchased a 4-track reel-to-reel recorder and each member had it for a month, during which time he could lay down his ideas and present them to the group. It was a rather prolific period in which the individual personalities took center stage, though each always had the band's best interests in mind. Since Wild History's music was virtually second nature to Sean, tightness came quickly and they were soon in the studio recording new compositions, both group and individual.

The first of these took place in 1988 - The "Studio X" "demo"recordings. One of the group compositions for these sessions definitely has the signature "Wild History Sound", a tune called "Whatchya Gonna Do?", but a blistering group interpreation of Harry Nilsson's "Jump into the Fire" also had the band's hallmark feel.The other group composition, "Stay Awhile" though admittedly a good rocker, didn't really have the band's imprint on it. Although it certainly can't be considered a song,the whacky "Country "Cuda" (insanely influenced by Heart's "Barracuda"), was also a group effort. Individual compositions were Charles' "The Savior", Sean's "Rule of the Hammer", and Jean's "Washin' Away" and "Eye of the Serpent"

Later in the same year the band went into a studio in New York City to record what would be their final "demo" as a band. These were all individual compositions: Charles' "I Tell the Lies", , as well as Joe F.'s "How in the World (Would I Know)", and another tune he wrote that ironically, because it was rather generic, garnered some interest, "In Our Time".The song appeared on the "CMJ Report's"(College Music Journal)"Certain Damage CD, Vol. 15".

Perhaps it was this new individual element, though interesting,that later proved to be the main contributing factor to the band's demise.

At any rate, after this last fertile period in which there was still record company interest but no cigar, the group could somehow feel the adhesive ineluctably dissolving,so Wild History decided to call it quits in the summer of 1989.

Any way each member looked at it, though, this period of time had been the highlight of his musical life.

Wild History Songs

Early Studio Work & Live Recordings

Below are a mix of early recordings which are interesting because they are sound documents of a band developing. These songs were never recorded in a professional studio. The recordings are either 2-Track, 4-track or 16-track, and all were mastered in 2017. The year the song was recorded, the amount of tracks, and if it is a live track are noted after each title.

By clicking on the "Lyrics link you can see the lyrics and the songwriting credits, as well as various photos of the band.

"Struggling to Be Heard" (4-Track-1984)

"Struggling to Be Heard (Live-1985)

"Forget You" (4-Track-1985)

"Going Now" (4-Track-1985)

"J'ai Malais" (16-Track-1985)

"J'ai Malais" (Live-1986)

"When the Bombs Start Falling" (16-Track-1985)

"Be Yourself" (Live-2-Track-1986)

"Glad All Over" (Live 1985) - Dave Clark 5 Cover Version (Live-2-Track-1985)

The line-up for these recordings was:

Ed Horton - Bass, backing vocal.

Sean O'Gara - Main and lead guitars, backing vocal.

Joe Reina - Drums and percussion.

Joe Florio - Lead vocal,rhythm guitar on "Going Now" and "Glad All Over".

Tony "Bean" Salumbene" played sax on "Forget You" and "Glad All Over".

Title Duration Listen Now Lyrics
Struggling to be Heard 4:42 Lyrics Download m4a
Struggling to be Heard (Live 1985) 4:42 Lyrics Download m4a
Forget You 6:59 Lyrics Download m4a
Going Now 4:29 Lyrics Download m4a
J'ai Malais 4:18 Lyrics Download m4a
J'ai Malais (Live 1986) 4:18 Lyrics Download m4a
When the Bombs Start Falling 4:58 Lyrics Download m4a
Be Yourself (Live 1986) 4:14 Lyrics Download m4a
Glad All Over (Live 1985) 3:14 Download m4a

Guns or Butter?

A 24-track recording made over several months in 1987, the album was recorded at Mixolydian Studios in Boonton, N.J. The enginneer was the wild and wooly Don Sternecker, and the LP was produced by Wild History.1,000 copies of the album were pressed, most of which were sent out to college radio stations across the U.S. The record did get some airplay, even ranking in the top 5 albums for a month or so on several college stations. In the end, however, the LP didn't cement a recording contract though interest remained. Undeterred, the band sojourned on.

The line-up for "Guns or Butter?" was:

Ed Horton - Bass, lead vocal on "Cousin Danny's in the I.R.A" and parts of "French Bayonet", backing vocal, and chimes.

Charles Dzugan - Main and lead guitars, backing vocal, and bass on "Theme for a Mental Breakdown".

Joe Reina - Drums, percussion, and piano on "Cousin Danny's in the I.R.A.".

Joe Florio - Lead vocal,rhythm guitar on "John Smith" and "Too Hot to Trotsky", and Jawbone of an Ass.

Additional players were:

Sean O'Gara - All guitars on "Dear Mom", rhythm guitar, backing vocal, and synthesizer on "Cousin Danny's in the I.R.A.", and speed reading on "Theme for a Mental Breakdown".

Tony "Bean" Salumbene - Sax and clarinet.

Raven Mendes - Backing vocal on "2005".

Don Sternecker - synthesizer on "2005".

Obviously feeling playful, 3 of the 4 band members at this time went by psuedonyms on the liner notes: Ed was Vasco da Gamma Ray, Charles was Chazugan, and Joe Florio was Jean Jaurès. Sean also took one - Johnny Slash (and this was well before "Guns 'n' Roses" became known!)

Below are the original 1987 2-track recordings that were mastered, as well as remasters of these 2-track recordings done in 2016. What can only be termed an "international" recording of "Dear Mom" that was recorded in 2010 by Sean, Charles, Joe Reina and Joe Florio, and remixed in 2016 is also included. The digital recording file was sent electronically to each party for him to do his bit, and then sent on to the next person to do his.The resulting recording is very satisfying, and is quite a different take on this Wild History classic. Live recordings of a couple of the tracks from "Guns or Butter?" are also below.

In the end, perhaps the liner notes that were included in the album sum up what this album and the band itself are all about:

Wild History is a state of mind as much as it is a musical entity. In a world which accepts the presence of evil as an inevitable fact of life, Wild History attempts, through the power of its music, to awaken the innate generosity of spirit which exists in each one of us. Wild History's songs condemn mindless violence, blind nationalism, environmental suicide, and post-colonial adventurism;they lament our shared sense of alienation, and our apparent craving for the maintenance of the status quo, even when we are each fully aware of the terrible cost this exacts from us as a society. Wild History presents no heroes; rather, the point is that each of us must accept responsibility for our own actions, and for the actions of those who act in our name, and that we must be aware of the necessity of extending our circle of concern if we are to survive. But don't be put off by the serious message - you can dance to this stuff, too!

By clicking on the "Lyrics" link you can see the lyrics and the songwriting credits, as well as various photos of the band.

Title Duration Listen Now Lyrics
Right Through My Heart (Original 1987 Recording)                                  3:53 Lyrics Download m4a
Dear Mom (Original 1987 Recording) 4:46 Lyrics Download m4a
Cousin Danny's in the I.R.A. (Original 1987 Recording) 3:35 Lyrics Download m4a
French Bayonet (Original 1987 Recording) 5:17 Lyrics Download m4a
John Smith (Original 1987 Recording) 4:16 Lyrics Download m4a
Israel/2005 (Original 1987 Recording) 9:29 Lyrics Download m4a
Theme for a Mental Breakdown/Too Hot to Trotsky (Original 1987 Recording) 6:07 Lyrics Download m4a
Right Through My Heart (Original 1987 Recording-Remastered 2016)                                  3:53 Lyrics Download m4a
Dear Mom (Original 1987 Recording-Remastered 2016) 4:46 Lyrics Download m4a
Cousin Danny's in the I.R.A.(Original 1987 Recording-Remastered 2016) 3:35 Lyrics Download m4a
French Bayonet (Original 1987 Recording-Remastered 2016) 5:17 Lyrics Download m4a
John Smith (Original 1987 Recording-Remastered 2016) 4:16 Lyrics Download m4a
Israel/2005 (Original 1987 Recording-Remastered 2016) 9:29 Lyrics Download m4a
Theme for a Mental Breakdown/Too Hot to Trotsky (Original 1987 Recording-Remastered 2016) 6:07 Lyrics Download m4a
Dear Mom-Recorded in 2010-Remixed & Mastered 2016 4:46 Lyrics Download m4a
Right Through My Heart & 2005 (Live 1988)                                  3:53 Download m4a

Studio X Recordings

These songs are 8-Track recordings made in 1988 at Studio X, which was in some town in North Central New Jersey whose name no longer comes to mind. "Rave" was the engineer and this better quality "demo" recording was produced by the band.These recordings were mastered in 2016. Then there are also newly remixed and mastered versions done in 2016. The line-up for these sessions was:

Sean O'Gara on bass, drum programming on "Rule of the Hammer" and lead vocal on one version of "Rule of the Hammer".

Charles Dzugan on main and lead guitars.

Joe Reina on drums on "Whatchya Gonna Do?", ""Jump into the Fire", "The Savior", "Country 'Cuda", and "Eye of the Serpent".

Deciding to keep his psuedonym, Jean Jaurès sings lead vocals, plays electric rhythm & acoustic guitars on "Eye of the Serpent", electric rhythm guitar on "Jump into the Fire", and acoustic guitar, synthesizer, and did the drum programming on "Washin' Away".

Since the original recordings were never mastered, below are mastered versions of the original 1988 recordings, as well as remixes that were mastered in 2016.

By clicking on the "Lyrics" link you can see the lyrics and the songwriting credits, as well as various photos of the band.

Title Duration Listen Now Lyrics
Whatchya Gonna Do? (1988 Original 2-Track Mix-Mastered 2016) 3:10 Lyrics Download m4a
Jump into the Fire (1988 Original 2-Track Mix-Mastered 2016) 4:21 Lyrics Download m4a
Country 'Cuda (1988 Original 2-Track Mix-Mastered 2016) 2:24 Lyrics Download m4a
Stay Awhile (1988 Original 2-Track Mix-Mastered 2016) 3:08 Lyrics Download m4a
Rule of the Hammer (1988 Original 2-Track Mix-Mastered 2016 - Sean vocal) 3:09 Lyrics Download m4a
Rule of the Hammer (1988 Original 2-Track Mix-Mastered 2016 - Jean vocal) 3:09 Lyrics Download m4a
The Savior (1988 Original 2-Track Mix-Mastered 2016) 4:32 Lyrics Download m4a
Eye of the Serpent (1988 Original 2-Track Mix-Mastered 2016) 3:08 Lyrics Download m4a
Washin' Away (1988 Original 2-Track Mix-Mastered 2016) 3:26 Lyrics Download m4a
Whatchya Gonna Do? (Remixed & Mastered 2016) 3:13 Lyrics Download m4a
Jump into the Fire (Remixed & Mastered 2016) 4:22 Lyrics Download m4a
Country 'Cuda/Stay Awhile (Remixed & Mastered 2016) 5:42 Lyrics Download m4a
Rule of the Hammer (Remixed & Mastered 2016 - Sean vocal) 3:13 Lyrics Download m4a
Rule of the Hammer (Remixed & Mastered 2016 - Jean vocal) 3:14 Lyrics Download m4a
The Savior (Remixed & Mastered 2016) 4:48 Lyrics Download m4a
Eye of the Serpent (Remixed & Mastered 2016) 3:12 Lyrics Download m4a
Washin' Away (Remixed & Mastered 2016) 3:32 Lyrics Download mp3

"Epiphanies" Sessions

Recorded in 1988 at a 24-Track studio in New York City whose name can't be recalled, this "demo" represents the band's last attempt at sealing a recording deal with a record company.The songs were remixed a few months later at Mixolydian Studios, where "Guns or Butter?" was made. The quality is considerably richer than the "Studio X" recordings but not quite as good as "Guns or Butter?" The line-up was the same as for the "Studio X" sessions. The driving "I Tell the Lies" was a band composition, while the other two tunes, "How in the World" and "In Our Time" were written by Jean. Although a rather generic composition, "In Our Time" garnered considerable interest, making it onto the monthly-issued "Certain Damage" CD put out by the CMJ Report (College Music Journal), which catered to college radio stations. As this "demo" did not get the band a recording contract, Wild History decided to disband in 1989. To this day (2019) they remain in contact and are good friends.

Below are the original 1988 2-track mixes, unmastered, as well as mastered versions done in 2016. There are also couple of live recordings from 1988.

By clicking on the "Lyrics" link you can see the lyrics and the songwriting credits, as well as various photos of the band.

Title Duration Listen Now Lyrics
How in the World (Original Recording-1st Mix-Unmastered) 3:16 Lyrics Download m4a
How in the World (Original Recording-Remix w/ piano-Unmastered) 3:12 Lyrics Download m4a
In Our Time ("Certain Damage" Mix) 3:37 Lyrics Download m4a
I Tell the Lies (Original Recording-1st Mix-Unmastered) 3:36 Lyrics Download m4a
I Tell the Lies (Original Recording-Remix-Unmastered) 3:38 Lyrics Download m4a
How in the World (Original Recording-1st Mix-Mastered) 3:18 Lyrics Download m4a
How in the World (Original Recording-Remix w/ piano-Mastered) 3:12 Lyrics Download m4a
I Tell the Lies (Original Recording-1st Mix-Mastered) 3:47 Lyrics Download m4a
I Tell the Lies (Original Recording-Remix-Mastered) 3:38 Lyrics Download m4a
How in the World (Live 1988-Mastered) 3:22 Lyrics Download m4a
I Tell the Lies (Live 1988-Mastered) 3:46 Lyrics Download m4a

Post-Wild History Recordings

As mentioned at the end of the "Epiphanies" notes, the band remained friendly, so in 1990, after Joe Florio purchased a Tascam TSR-8-track reel-to-reel tape deck, mainly he and Sean decided to record a number of songs from the earlier recordings that hadn't had the best quality, as well as a few new ones, one of which was born at the end of Wild History (On the Line), and achieved fruition during these sessions. Sean and Joe, particularly, hoped to do the old songs greater justice.

Over a period of several months, the sessions took place primarily in Joe's apartment, but the drums were recorded in a cavernous New York City bar built in the 1930's,at which Joe was working at that time. A host of various players joined Joe, Sean, Ed, and Charles in the making of these recordings. However, the very original interpretation of Sean & Ed's song "J'ai Malais", which was recorded at Joe F.'s apartment, is a mix 95% Charles'.

The line-ups for these recordings are as follows:

"On the Line"(O'Gara/Dzugan/Reina/Florio):Joe F. (lead vocal); Sean (guitar and bass);Frank Giannini (drummer of "The Bongos") - Drums; Tony Salumbene - Sax; The piano player has slipped from memory, unfortunately.

"I Wish It Was" (O'Gara/Florio):Joe F. (Lead and backing vocal); Sean (Acoustic & electric guitars,bass); Frank Giannini (Drums). Again, the piano player is unknown.

"Connection" (Florio): Joe F. (Lead vocal, guitars); Ed (Bass, backing vocals); Tony Salumbene (Sax); The drums are programmed.

"Be Yourself" (Dzugan/Horton/Reina/Florio):Joe F.(Lead vocal); Charles (All Guitars, backing vocal); Ed (Bass, backing vocal); Frank Giannini (Drums).

"Forget You" (O'Gara/Horton/Reina/Florio): Joe F. (Lead vocal); Sean (All guitars);Ed (Bass); Frank Giannini (Drums); Tony Salumbene (Sax).

"When the Bombs Start Falling" (O'Gara/Horton/Reina/Florio): Joe F. (Lead vocals); Sean (All guitars); Ed (Bass); Frank Giannini (Drums).

"J'ai Malaise" (O'Gara/Horton) Joe F. (lead vocals, harmonica & synth) Charles (All other instruments and drum programming) Sean (Backing vocal)

Since Joe F. relocated to Europe in 1991, he ran out of time to complete mixes of "Be Yourself" and "When the Bombs Start Falling", so what's here are debuts; they were mixed and mastered in 2016 for the first time.

By clicking on the "Lyrics" link you can see the lyrics and the songwriting credits, as well as various photos of the band.

Title Duration Listen Now Lyrics
On the Line (Original Mix-Mastered)                                  4:15 Lyrics Download m4a
On the Line (Remixed & Mastered 2016) 4:26 Lyrics Download m4a
I Wish It Was (1990 Original Mix-Mastered) 2:52 Lyrics Download m4a
I Wish It Was (Remixed & Mastered 2016) 3:15 Lyrics Download m4a
Connection (1990 Original Mix-Mastered) 2:53 Lyrics Download m4a
Connection (Remixed & Mastered 2016) 2:56 Lyrics Download m4a
Be Yourself (Mixed & Mastered 2016) 4:29 Lyrics Download m4a
Forget You (Mixed & Mastered 2016) 6:02 Lyrics Download m4a
When the Bombs Start Falling (Modeled on 1985 Original Recording-Mixed & Mastered 2016) 4:58 Lyrics Download m4a
When the Bombs Start Falling (New Mix-Mixed & Mastered 2016) 4:58 Lyrics Download m4a
J'ai Malaise (Charles' Mix) 5:26 Lyrics Download m4a